Clippers & Blazers Swap Superstars in Blockbuster Trade Proposal

Clippers-Blazers trade

Getty CJ McCollum of the Portland Trail Blazers dribbles in front of Paul George and Patrick Beverley of the LA Clippers.

The Los Angeles Clippers are currently in the midst of trying to avoid another postseason disaster. The Clips managed to cut the lead the Dallas Mavericks have in their seven-game series lead down to 2-1, but Clipper Nation is by no means assuaged.

Unlike the other team in L.A., the Clippers have yet to win a championship, and after spending tons of cash on the acquisition of superstars like Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in recent years, anything less than an NBA title won’t cut it.

Should Dallas manage to continue its hot play in this series and eventually topple the Clippers, more roster moves and trades can be expected from Ty Lue’s squad. With that in mind, Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report put together a list of potential trades for several teams, and when it came to the Clips, Buckley has them swapping superstars with the Portland Trail Blazers.

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Clippers Send PG, Zubac Off for CJ McCollum & Nurkic

Here’s the trade Buckley proposed that would also give L.A. a high draft pick:

  • Los Angeles Clippers receive: CJ McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic, Robert Covington and 2023 first-round pick (top-five protected)
  • Portland Trail Blazers receive: Paul George, Ivica Zubac and Luke Kennard

According to Buckley, this particular trade would only be possible if the following three things happen, however: The Clippers and Blazers both would have to make early or ugly playoff exits, Kawhi would have to stay with the Clips and could not test the free agency waters, and Damian Lillard would have to sign off on the trading of McCollum, who is averaging a career-high 23.1 points a game this season.

“Those are some massive ifs,” Buckley admits, “but if every box is checked, this could be a fascinating attempt by both franchises to capitalize on their championship windows. The Clippers collectively improve their shot-creation and playmaking around Leonard with McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic. Even if neither matches up to George individually, together they could offer more offensive relief to Leonard and help get the ball moving. L.A. would miss George on defense, but it could still blanket opposing wings with Leonard, Robert Covington and Marcus Morris Sr., plus it would have Nurkic as insurance on the back line. L.A. would also add a first-round pick for trading the best player in this deal.”

Would Clippers Really Ship PG & Zubac Off?

Buckley seems to understand that this is quite the eyebrow-raising trade proposal. “This is, admittedly, a ton of moving parts for a pair of top-six seeds, but if each is prematurely ousted from the postseason, it might be open to substantial retooling,” he wrote. “Leonard turns 30 in June, and Lillard’s 31st birthday follows in July. The time to make all-in moves around them is now.”

Perhaps. The inclusion of a first-round pick in the proposal makes it all the more intriguing because Kawhi isn’t getting any younger, but I just don’t see George wanting to leave Los Angeles — and I really don’t think Kawhi would find that situation copacetic. If he were to chose not to exercise his player option, however, everything is on the table.

The Clippers would also get slightly older at center with this trade, as Zubac is showing promise at 24, while Nurkic turns 27 in a few months. McCollum intrigues, but ultimately, I just don’t see the Clippers wanting to make it happen. Unless, of course, the team entirely falls apart over the next few weeks. Then, all bets are off.

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